"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." -Confucius
I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal growth in regards to writing. So this quote struck me because I could see myself and my writing journey in it. In fact, I think it applies to many writers.
At one point, we try to learn by imitation, because, as Confucius says, it is the easiest. I remember myself in junior high, writing novels that were absolute rip offs of the book I had just finished reading. You should see the 1984 clone I wrote in seventh grade. Shameless. But, did I learn? Sure. Does imitation alone get you there? No.
Learning by experience, the bitterest. Oh, how well I understand this statement. Last summer, I was burning with the desire to make it. To get there. I had a book that I thought was great and I was raring to go. I plunged into querying with wild hopes and enthusiasm. Oh sure, I edited the thing, a few times even. I felt like I was putting the best product out there. But alas, I wasn't ready, not truly ready. And as a result, I faced bitter disappointment.
This year has been one of reflection for me. And I don't so much mean sitting and meditating about myself as a writer, my writing, and so forth (although as I've said before, I do spend a great deal of time pondering.) To me, reflection as related to writing simply means taking ones time. Whereas with Midas I was so fired up just to try and do it, with Searcher, I've spent over a year now working to make it the best I can. This has involved reading books on writing. Making long notes in my Moleskine just to analyze my progress. And of course, editing and editing and editing until my eyes bleed.
And you know, as tired and worn out as I have felt about it sometimes, I'm sure that I've grown. Am I there? Have I learned all I need to learn? Of course not. But I feel that at the very least, I have become, as Confucius would say, wise.